Jesus and the Siblings

For the majority of Catholics, if not all, the “siblings” of Christ in Scripture are the cousins of Christ. For the Orthodox, Joseph had children with a previous wife before becoming a widower. For many Protestant, Mary had other children after Christ. Many have no issue with her mothering others.

Something came to mind early this morning. If the Blessed Mother did go on to have children after Christ, then that means some people today could be “blood” related to Christ’s since He was fully human. So not only could one be related to our Lord in the spiritual way but also in the human way as well. :eek:

I guess it all depends on which side of the fence you stand on when viewing the siblings of Christ, but if you are on the side that Mary gave birth to others, you could be blood related to Christ.

A professor of religious studies I know explained that this is why the Church wanted to squash the idea of blood siblings.


We don’t need for Jesus to have blood siblings to be related by blood to Jesus. Mary’s parents could have had other children, or their parents have other children, from whom some of us are descended. In this case, Jesus would be a blood-cousin to this progenitor instead of a blood sibling or uncle, but it’s still a blood relationship. Only an indirect blood relationship is possible (cousin, uncle, etc), unless Jesus himself had children, which I don’t think anybody claims. So there are probably people walking around today with an indirect blood relationship to Jesus (which is the only type of relationship possible). If we accept the idea that only Mary contributed to Jesus’ DNA, so to speak (ie, Joseph was not the biological father) then anyone who can trace their roots back to Mary’s parents would be just as closely related as someone who could trace his roots back to a biological child of Mary and Joseph (because we can only be biologically related through Mary). The Church has never taught whether or not Mary had brothers or sisters or blood aunts or uncles, which would make this indirect blood relationship possible.

The reason the Church wanted to squash the idea is because it’s wrong. See this Catholic Answers tract for the evidence.

Good points…There are A LOT of ways to come up with relatives of Christ. Not sure Mary had siblings but we do know Elizabeth was her cousin. Maybe Elizabeth had more children that John…so yeah one could come up with many different equations.

A blood sibling is much closer in relation than a cousin or uncle but I totally understand what you meant.

As far as the squash…that was merely the opinion he gave me. I’m sure he has many colorful more lol.

I do not believe it to be wrong that Mary could have other children. There is really no wrong answer in my eyes. Both views have pros and cons I guess.

It is a misconception that Catholics teach that the brothers were actually cousins. In fact, we can’t tell if any of the “brothers” were cousins. All the Church affirms is that they were not children of Mary. They could have been children of Joseph from a prior marriage. But the specific word for cousin (anepsios) probably would not have been used in Matthew 13:55 unless all the “brothers” were cousins. If even one of them was not a cousin, the more general term “adelphoi” covers the situation. Even if all of them were cousins, the term “brother” could still be used by Matthew to appropriately describe them.

These things were taken for granted by the early Christians, who were familiar with the biblical languages and who knew that Mary was a lifelong virgin. In A.D. 380, Helvidius proposed that Mary had other children because of the “brothers” in Matthew 13:55. He was rebutted by Jerome, who was arguably the greatest biblical scholar of the day. The Protestant reformer John Calvin seconded Jerome: “Helvidius has shown himself too ignorant, in saying that Mary had several sons, because mention is made in some passages to the brothers of Christ” [quoted by Bernard Leeming, Protestants and Our Lady, 9]. Martin Luther agreed with Calvin that Mary was always a virgin, as did Ulrich Zwingli: “I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary” [E. Stakemeier, De Mariologia et Oecumenismo, K. Balic, ed., 456].

Yeah I knew that about Luther and the likes…the ever virgin died out much later with the other reforms that came along the way.

The world “virgin” in Scripture could also mean young girl. Many have taken that to mean Mary was simply “young” but that argument does not hold water with me. lol

It’s difficult to see how anyone, after reading everything about the meaning of “brothers” in Scripture, could still cling to their idea that Mary was anything other than ever-virgin. Although your professor is probably sincere, imo, his ideas, are harder to believe than the truth.

BTW, I don’t think the Church gets into whether or not Joseph had children and was widowed before he became to betrothed to Mary.

Mary’s womb was consecrated to hold no one other than the Son of God himself. To say that anyone else ever came from that womb would have desecrated her womb which for 9 months was the dwelling place for God. If in the Old Testament only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy place, how much more the place that held THE High Priest Himself?

Yes, but any “brothers” of Jesus could have only been half-siblings (if we don’t regard Joseph as Jesus’ biological father).

But, as you say, the point is that someone can have a blood relationship to Jesus even if Mary never had other children. And MANY people probably DO have a blood relationship with Jesus. The Church has never found this idea objectionable.

For the first part…I am not against the PV of the Blessed Mother.

The second part is fascinating. We believe Christ to be fully human so there are people related to Christ in this world today as far as the human aspect is concerned. Very cool. you have some work to do lol

I read somewhere (don’t know if the source or my memory is reliable) that a genetic study shows that pretty much everybody on earth is related to everybody else by blood by at least being a 43rd cousin. That’s not hard to believe. You have four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, 16 GGPs, etc. So if you go back 43 generations you would have roughly 8,800,000,000,000 (2 raised to the 43 power) Great x 43 grandparents. Which FAR exceeds the entire population of everyone who has ever lived since Jesus was born (which means that many of those ancestors were the same individual, which would happen if cousins (even distant cousins) marry).

If you and someone else share one of those ancestors, you are 43rd cousins. If that’s true then pretty much EVERYBODY is related to Jesus by blood, if only very distantly. We would also be related to pretty much every other well-known person (Einstein, Newton, Aristotle). Unfortunately we would also be related to Stalin, Hitler, and every other bad sort.


Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit. If she had children by others then she is an adulterer and Jesus is son of an adulterer.

It is not possible that the union of God and an adulterer produced the Messiah.


The Protevangelium Jacobi, a very early (mid-2nd century) but non-canonical text speaks of Joseph as a widower with grown sons.

There were probably many cousins and relatives of Jesus who were written out of history for the same reason. People back then always wanted to follow the closest next-of-kin when a prophet or great leader died. But we were told to follow Peter, so any step-siblings Jesus may have had were mostly forgotten.

The people who say the word virgin means young girl are not reading the Gospels very well. In Luke, Mary asks the angel how can she be pregnant if she is still a virgin. Even if the word virgin also means young girl/maiden, Mary was clearly pointing out the fact that she has not been with a man.
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
-Luke 1:34

There’s a book called The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes which explains how we can genetically link all humans.

:rolleyes: sheesh. That really diminishes the title “professor”.

I do not like this particular translation. The Greek is:

34: eipen {BUT SAID} mariam {MARY} proV {TO} ton {THE} aggelon {ANGEL,} pwV > {HOW} estai {SHALL BE} touto {THIS} epei {SINCE} andra ou {A MAN} ginwskw {I KNOW NOT?}

I think it is better in other translations

Douay 34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?
NAB 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
KJV 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
ASV 34 And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Darby 34But Mary said to the angel, How shall this be, since I know not a man?
NKJV 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

lol that made me spit out my diet dew

Good post.

I believe basically every Christian (I hope) accepts that Mary was a virgin before the birth of Christ. The debate comes up when we speak about after.

It was probably the other way around; Calvin agreed with Luther, since Calvin was 25 years younger than Luther. ;):slight_smile:


A sibling by definition is a biological brother or sister. Jesus had no siblings because Mary was a perpetual virgin.

The brothers and sisters mentioned in Scripture are almost certainly cousins but could be wider than that.

Although the Protoevangelium of James says that Joseph was a widower and had children which would mean step brothers and sisters I do not believe this because under Jewish customs Mary would have been entrusted to their care after Jesus died on the cross but she was not.

I guess the Church missed the Scripture verses which reference James the Lord brother, and the brothers and sisters of Jesus? Otherwise, if the Church was truly interested in squashing this idea, it would have eliminated these verses or changed them so that there was no confusion.

But the Church didn’t do so, because the Church was concerned with the truth. And the truth is that Mary had no other children, and these verses needed to be faithfully translated as they were and not changed. Some people separate themselves from the Church and err when they believe Mary had other children, but the Church can only continue to proclaim the truth and hope people will listen.

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